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Lilongwe is the capital of Malawi and after Blantyre in the south it is the second largest city in the country with about 700,000 inhabitants. It is located in the central part of the country along the Lilongwe River, not far from the borders with Zambia and Mozambique. It is the administrative and political centre of the country, but Blantyre is of more importance regarding the economical position. The city is very safe compared to many other African capitals and as a result many expats, some of them working for NGOs, live here and for travellers the city is a welcome place as well with good infrastructure, hotels, bars and restaurants.
Lilongwe has a tropical climate with usually hot and humid weather, especially during the rainy period from November to April. From May to October it is rather dry and dusty, with the late dry season being the hottest time of the year, with temperatures usually well above 30 °C during the day. June and July can be relatively cold though, with night temperatures regularly dropping below 10 °C at night, rising just above 20 °C during daytime.
If you are heading to Mozambique, then some crossings will require you to have obtained a visa in advance (in any case, getting it in advance should preclude the possibility of the border officials accidentally/deliberately overcharging you). Costs and conditions are liable to change - in July 2009, a single entry 30 day visa was MK6,700 plus 2 photos (for a UK citizen). Note that the date of entry you specify is the beginning of a TWO month period in which you must use your visa. If you hand in your passport in the morning then you can pick it up again in the afternoon. Directions to the Mozambique High Commission are given in the Getting Around/By Public Transport section.
Air Malawi is the national airline of Malawi and from Lilongwe International Airport (LLW) near the capital there are flights to and from Harare, Johannesburg, Lusaka and Nairobi with Air Malawi. Air Zimbabwe flies to and from Dar Es Salaam, Dubai, Harare and London. Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Johannesburg are served by their respective national airlines.
Air Malawi also flies into the city from Mzuzu and Blantyre.
There are several AXA buses per day from Mzuzu to Lilongwe, taking 6.5 hours and costing MK1180 (July 2009). These arrive in Lilongwe at the bus terminal south of Old Town - a taxi from this bus station to Old Town will cost at least MK500 (July 2009). There are several AXA buses per day from Lilongwe to Blantyre, taking 4.5 hours and costing MK3000 (Aug 2009). These leave from the AXA terminal on Murray Road in Old Town.
Taxis within Lilongwe cost MK500 minimum (July 2009).
To reach the Mozambique High Commission, you will need to take a minibus towards city centre (one heading to Area 12 should do it). It takes about 20 minutes and costs MK80 (July 2009). Get out just after turning into African Unity Avenue.
Old Town is compact enough to cover on foot.
|Korea Garden Lodge||Plot No. 3056,Tsiranana Ave., Area 3, P.O.Box 2181, Lilongwe||Hotel||-|
|Mufasa Backpackers Lilongwe||Kamuzu Procession Road 4/021 Lilongwe P.O.Box 7 Lumbadzi||Hostel||86|
|Madidi Lodge||Area 9 plot 367 Private bag 205||Hotel||-|
|Mabuya Camp||Livingstone Road Next to Likuni Roundabout Area 3||Guesthouse||86|
|Annies Lodge||Area 10||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Friendly Gecko||Leopard Bay Lifuwu||GUESTHOUSE||-|
as well as Hien (6%)
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